Eminent Igbo leaders under the auspices of Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF) are to meet over the outcomes of the recently concluded presidential conventions of the various political parties, which clearly did not accommodate the interest of the South East.
The two major political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not elect any South Easterner as either their flag bearer or running mate. Instead, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State was on Thursday unveiled as Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in the PDP.
This is as the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, within the week said that it was still weighing options for the South East ahead of next year’s Presidential elections.
Secretary of the Chukwuemeka Ezeife-led Consultative Forum, Prof. Charlie Nwekeaku revealed on Friday, that the Igbo were disappointed that the PDP did not reciprocate the long years of support and faithfulness of the people of South East to the party.
Nwekeaku also said that the Southern Governors were selfish and disunited to have been angling for the slot of vice president in the PDP when actually they had resolved that it was the turn of the South to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
“We said that Ndigbo will not accept anything less than the presidency of Nigeria in 2023. We said it in the interest of the entire Igbo. It is a collective interest. We also said that it is the turn of the South East because we believe that if you look at the history of Nigerian leadership from independence till now, you find out that South East has been terribly marginalized.
“Therefore, for the sake of justice, equity and fairness, the Igbo Elders Consultative Forum said that it is the turn of the South East. And the Igbo Council of Elders is not alone in saying that. You also recall that the Southern and Middle-Belt Forum said the same thing. The Southern Governors’ Forum, although they didn’t say it should be zoned to the South East, they said it should be the turn of the South. Afenifere said zone it to South East. PANDEF said zone it to South East. So, for any person, because we learnt that many persons were angling for that running mate even before Atiku finally settled for Okowa,” Nwekeaku stated.
He reasoned that these politicians did not have regard for the collective interest of the Igbo, arguing that if they did, none of them would have pushed to be vice presidential.
“It also means that they do not believe in even what the Southern Governors’ Forum said that all the major political parties should zone the presidency to the South.
“It means that Okowa who attended that meeting, he even hosted one of the meetings I believe. If he now accepts VP slot, it means that the entire governors did not believe what they said. It also means that there is a crack among the Southern Governors’ Forum because that forum said that it is the turn of the South. It is not only Okowa, some others were interested. It means that some of them did not even believe in that and that is quite unfortunate.
“It shows disunity among the South in pursuit of whatever the South called collective interest,” he said.
He explained that part of the issues to be discussed at the meeting would be whether to activate their earlier resolution to place a curse on any Igbo that accepted the position of vice president in the upcoming general elections.
“The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum had said that whoever betrays the decision of the Igbo, that they will publicly curse that person. But the Elders Consultative Forum has not met to discuss the new development. So, whatever I have said is my personal opinion. Igbo elders will meet to decide on next course of action.
“But we have not withdrawn from what we said about the pursuit of the presidency. We still have a window to pursue that course. And of course, you know that some parties observed what the Igbo elders said by zoning their tickets to South East and that is why you have some people from the South East who are presidential candidates. You know for example, Mr. Peter Obi is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. So, Labour Party has done what we asked the parties to do and our people will reciprocate by voting massively for Mr Peter Obi. Our people will reciprocate by making sure that we do not deny them our votes,” he concluded.
Similarly, President General of Coalition of South East Youth Laeders (COSEYL), Goodluck Ibem said: “The people of South East don’t want the position of Vice President of the All Progressives Congress or Peoples Democratic Party. What we want is the Presidential ticket of the parties.”